5 Tips for Instagram Growth

Realising that the power of social media was one I should be harnessing, at the end of last year I set up an Instagram account – @caitlinjeanrussell – as a way to increase both my social and organic blog traffic. I have had somewhat of a boost in blog views from Instagram compared to when I used to just have a hyperlink on my personal account, even if it is only gradual. As my account gains popularity, the Instagram referrals are slowly but surely beginning to add up.

I cannot even begin to recount the number of ‘quick fix’ blog posts that I’ve read in the last few months about how to grow your Instagram followers, how to attain more likes and how to acquire more page interactions. Most of the posts I’ve read consist of the same list of solutions that don’t actually offer any solution. To be perfectly frank, most of them are unhelpful click bait that give a vague outline of how to sort of get some more followers, but more often than not left me more confused than when I started off.

My whole problem, I’ve come to realise, with Instagram is that I’m really lazy with it. I will be on a really good roll for a couple of weeks and then one day I’ll stop posting and my follower count will begin to dwindle, and so the cycle will repeat itself time and time again. When I had the idea to write this post I told myself that I would actually make as conscious an effort as I do to interact with other WordPress blogs on Instagram, and so for the last three days I have. In only three days my organic following has risen by over 100 followers, and here’s the things I’m doing differently to make this happen.

  1. Ask for features: It took me a long time to not care if pages with huge followings rejected my photos, but now that I’ve started to ask to be featured on more popular travel accounts I can’t believe it took me so long to do so. Exposure from a page with several or sometimes hundreds of thousands of followers can direct a lot of traffic your way. There are plenty of accounts dedicated to purely sharing other people’s photographs, such as accounts like @backpackerstory. All it takes is a direct message asking if they’d consider featuring one of their photos and attaching a few to the message that you think fit their theme. Some charge for features and others post them for free. I personally wouldn’t pay for a feature but that’s just my prerogative. Make sure if and when you are featured, that people who click onto your page have something coherent and interesting to look at.
  2. Pick a theme: Seems pretty simple, and more often than not appears in the blog posts I was slating just a few sentences ago. To make this cloudy point more evident, I’ve attached photos below of my new theme. I run a travel blog, and so most of my Instagram posts are about travel. When scrolling through my blog I noticed that I have a lot of photographs that are predominantly blue, so I decided that would be my theme. All of my posts now alternate between horizontal and landscape, so that each photo can be seen clearly when scrolling through the page, and each of them is blue to create some sense of harmony on the page.
  3. Network: I’ve read this before, but nobody really explains what it means. What I believe it means to network on Instagram is to like as many photos as you can be bothered liking (just being honest!) with similar hashtags and photo content to yours. For example, if I like another travel photographer’s photos then they’re more likely to be interested in my content than a sports blogger.  As well as liking, follow accounts with similar content and comment on their photos to show that you’re genuinely interested in what they post. If you show someone you’re interested in them, chances are they’ll give you the time of day and return the favour.
  4. Use hashtags wisely: I spent a long time curating a list of hashtags to accompany my travel posts, and it was really just a case of trial and error for me. One of the easiest ways to find which hashtags are best are to search the hashtag and see how many posts have been made with it, then compare it to others. You only get a limited amount of them for every photo, so don’t use them frivolously, and make sure they relate to your post.
  5. Avoid Instagram pods: I’ve joined a few pods in my time, and all that happens with them is that everybody is keen for a few days then stops interacting with your posts. People who follow you on their own accord are genuinely interested in what you have to post, so spend your energy interacting with their page to keep them interested and clicking on yours.

And that’s it! My easy guide to increasing your Instagram traffic. Maybe my attitude is why I’m way behind on the follower count, but I’m sure I’ll get there some day!



43 thoughts on “5 Tips for Instagram Growth

  1. Hmm… on hashtags. Everybody who is successful on Instagram says not to use popular hashtags because your work gets buried with a huge amount of others’ work. And, since when are they limited? Use as many or few as you want. But, don’t use hashtags that aren’t accurate to your post, just as you shouldn’t use general purpose tags on WordPress. Or, too many on WordPress. Anything over 15 total gets them all limited and Google can’t find you.

    1. You’re only allowed to add a certain amount to every post, and this post is for beginners, so in order to get your posts out there surely it’s necessary to use popular ones?

  2. Since when? I add as many or as few as I want. I’m a tight editor and don’t try to add much over 15. As far as popular hashtags go, that’s counter to everybody else’s approach even for beginners. Accuracy is more important. You lose followers if you mislead them. The real issueis consistant posting and keeping pictures germane to what you to be… mixing family snapshots with real work is confusing, for instance.

    1. I’m not sure since when, but certainly for as long as I’ve been using Instagram. You can try it yourself if you’re so hesitant to believe me, but if you try to attach over a certain amount the comment/ post will report an error which won’t resolve itself until the tag amount lies under the limit. I think we’ll need to agree to disagree, while I agree relevancy is the most important I think in order to allow your post to reach as far as possible you should use popular tags from your relevant genre.

  3. Great post – I’m trying to use Instagram more effectively, but still lack the discipline of a real theme. Also I struggle with the follow/unfollow culture. I only follow accounts that genuinely interest me, so the concept of following just to hope that they’ll follow me back and I can unfollow them is so strange, and rude, and I struggle not to take it personally when people do it to me…

    1. Me too!! I only follow a couple hundred accounts at the minute because that’s the ones I’m interested in. Me too! It is sooo rude! What’s your username?

    2. I completely agree with you! I can’t understand this follow/unfollow culture either and it bothers me that people resort to this type of behaviour.
      I definitely take it less seriously than I used to but you can’t help but notice when it happens.

  4. I just started using Instagram as well. I definitely don’t have a theme, but it’s an interesting idea. I’m curious about what you mean by “asking for a feature”, do you send a message or do you just mean tag/hashtag the featuring account?

  5. I’ve been on Instagram for almost 2 years and just now decided to take it more seriously in hopes of trying to drive up traffic going in both directions. I try not to post the same photos on both, as the blog and Instagram carry the same name and might seem redundant. Does that matter in your opinion? I find this helpful. Thanks

    1. I do use photos from my blog in order to guide traffic towards it but try to take photos specifically for Instagram, too. Just a bit of both, and especially with my all blue theme sometimes it’s a challenge to always have brand new content for Instagram 😊

  6. Great post! I’m really struggling with the theme problem. I just can’t stick to a theme. Also I have more people that I’m following than followers, and most of those are just ghost-people, as they would never follow back. That’s so rude. But ya, I’m still trying my best to get on with this social media thing.. I hope I’ll succeed one day, and with my blog too, cuz I’m just a beginner yet 😅

  7. I used to be really conscious with gaining more followers. I’d overkill on hashtags and mass like similar photos. Now, I just put a few or none at all (which is probably not right either haha) and follow accounts I really like. I don’t gain much followers but at least they aren’t the kind that follow then unfollow after a few days once you’ve followed back. 😨

  8. Ha, yes, I’m a newbie to Instagram and was surprised by that follow / drop phenom too. Reminds me of those cruel playground politics from grade school. (Or was that just my childhood?) ; ) Sigh, no instant gratification from Instagram, I suspect it’s a long term investment in building a successful following.
    I have a couple quandaries if anyone has any insights on them, please share:
    What’s the deal with the mass photography accounts that post photos with no descriptors other than their account name and give no credit to any photographers?
    Are they just curating stock photos or what (ie earthshowingoff)?
    And how about when a site like travelaxis asks you to add your hashtag to your posts – is that a good thing that will help drive traffic back and forth or what?
    Also, people have warned me about posting photos without a copyright as sadly there are thieves among us. I notice some people post as part of their profile a note about the photos being their property and / or have a copyright on them. I just figured out how to put a copyright on the pictures I take with my Nikon, but I take a ton from my phone too… Any thoughts & strategies? Thanks Caitlin for another great post (and the likes on my 30 day adventure in Thailand) & to those in the conversation.

  9. Great post! I find it really hard to grow on IG because I just can’t care enough, it’s too disingenuous for my taste. Like people said here in the comments, the unfollow culture is just so superficial it makes me want to avoid to whole thing! But, great points here! Never DM’d a large account yet, maybe one day I’ll get to that! 😊

  10. Great perspective on Instagram, Thank you. I’m still struggling to narrow my theme. Travel is pretty vague at times. I’ll just keep plugging away and posting what makes me happy on both my blog and Instagram.

    1. I go through phases of interacting with other accounts and when I do I see my following and engagement shoot up, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered with it! Good for you, thanks for commenting 😊

  11. This is brilliant. Feel similar to you in that I don’t feel comfortable interacting with other accounts that I have no interest in just to gain a following, it feels really, really fake. Good to know that there’s a way to grow without having to lose authenticity!

Leave a Reply